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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 15:48 GMT
Plumber's yacht death an accident
The yacht the captain fell from
A coastguard helicopter was scrambled to search for the yacht
A plumber drowned after he was swept overboard from a yacht by a wave, an inquest has heard.

David Clear, 43, from Fishbourne, West Sussex, was skippering the yacht, Pastime, in gale force winds off the coast at Portland, Dorset, last March.

The inquest heard Mr Clear had been sailing to Plymouth with the yacht's owner, who was knocked unconscious by Mr Clear as he was thrown overboard.

West Dorset Coroner's Court recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Pastime's owner, Reginald Paley, who had just bought the yacht, had been asleep when the accident occurred.

I couldn't turn the boat back
Reginald Paley

The inquest heard how Mr Clear had not been attached to the boat by a safety harness because he had been making frequent trips below deck, due to problems with the boat's power.

When a wave knocked Mr Clear sideways into the sea he hit Mr Paley, temporarily knocking him out.

Mr Paley said: "All I remember was being hit as Dave went over the top of me and into the sea.

"I was stunned, stroke knocked out.

"From the moment of being hit, my next moment of being aware was when I looked behind me to see his lifejacket flashing 40 metres behind.

"I then chucked in a life ring towards him.

"I realised that I couldn't turn the boat back and sail back or motor back so the only thing to do was radio for help."

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch Inquiry found the engine had been overheating and the batteries were not storing enough power to supply the boat for long periods of time.

The 15-year-old boat had been out of the water for three months.

The boat was found 16 miles south-east of Portland and the crewman was rescued. Mr Clear was found dead three hours later, four miles from the boat.

The pair had been en-route from Hamble in Hampshire to Plymouth.




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